Sony A6600 vs. Sony A6100: A choice with no wrong answer

When Sony announced A6100 and A6600 on the same day, many were left wondering which one of the APS-C cameras was right for them. Although there are several similarities in both systems, the differences could be enough to sway your decision when picking the right camera for you.

The A6100 is currently available for $600, while the A6600 is $1400. That’s quite a difference, but higher cost doesn’t always equate to better quality. Instead, the features and performance are what separate the two — but in many ways, they’re closer than you might think.

At a glance:

Sony A6600

  • 24MP APS-C sensor
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • 2.36 million-Dot OLED EVF
  • UHD 4K/30p video
  • 810-shot battery life
  • 11 fps continuous shooting
  • 1/4000 to 30-second shutter speed

Sony A6100

  • 24MP APS-C sensor
  • 1.44 million-dot EVF
  • 4K/30p video
  • 420-shot battery life
  • 11 fps continuous shooting
  • 1/4000 to 30-second shutter speed

Sensor

Sony A6600 front with flip screen raised in selfie position
Sony A6600

Sony has packed the same 24-megapixel sensor into both the A6100 and A6600. That amount of resolution is great for those who like to print their images, but how does it translate when looking at day-to-day image quality that’s likely to be viewed only on a digital screen?

When we tested both cameras, we were impressed by the richness in color and the amount of detail in the images we created. Granted, most of our testing was done in daylight, but there were times we needed to bump up the ISO. Native ISO performance in both cameras is identical, starting at ISO 100 and reaching ISO 32,000. Both cameras offered acceptable noise through ISO 6,400, but obviously fell behind Sony’s full-frame offerings.

The real takeaway here is that you’re not sacrificing any image quality by opting for the cheaper A6100. In fact, if you put the money you save toward a higher-quality lens, you can actually get better results with the A6100 than the A6600 on the same budget.

Stabilization

A feature commonly reserved for flagship models is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). Likewise, you’ll find 5-axis stabilization on the A6600, but not the A6100. This is one of those features that can be hard to live without once you’ve used it. Fortunately, many of Sony’s E-Mount lenses offer optical stabilization, but even these will perform even better on a camera with IBIS.

Autofocus

Sony A6100. David Elrich / Digital Trends

Sony has included its industry-leading autofocus (AF) technology in its entry-level and mid-range cameras. That’s great news if you need professional-level AF but have to stick to a tight budget.

Owners of each camera can enjoy the same 425 phase- and contrast-detection points that cover 84 percent of the frame. Real-Time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF perform superbly in both cameras, and we were very pleased with the level of accuracy when using them. The fact you can get such amazing AF performance in a $600 camera like the A6100 is practically unbelievable. And if AF performance is higher up on your list of important features, you can save yourself $800 and still enjoy the same technology as what’s in the A6600.

Video

Consistent with what you’ve read so far, video capabilities are pretty much the same in both cameras, minus a few differences that are important to note.

They record UltraHD 4K (3,840 x 2,160) video up to 30 frames per second and 100 megabits per second. High-end videographers may lament the lack of 10-bit HDMI output in either camera, as both only shoot in 8-bit for both internal or external recording.

One feature present in the A6600, but lacking in the A6100, is Real-Time Eye AF when recording video. This could be a deal-breaker if most of your recording is of fast-moving animals and humans. It doesn’t mean the A6100 won’t perform well, but just not as well as the A6600. Another difference is the recording limit. The A6100 can record up to 30 minutes; however, the A6600 has no limit when shooting video.

Another potentially important distinction is that while both cameras offer microphone ports, only the A6600 has a headphone jack. If you need to monitor audio, it’s going to be the better choice.

Design

Sony A6600 back
Sony A6600

We’ve had a lot of cameras pass through our hands here at Digital Trends. We have to say it’s unlikely we’re ever going to give either the A6100 and the A6600 an award when it comes to their design. That’s not to say the design is terrible. It’s just that it feels a tad dated and clunky when putting it up against a camera like the Fujifilm X-T30, for example.

But, it’s Sony’s style, and many photographers are perfectly happy with it.

The cameras are similar, but not identical. The A6100 is ever so slightly smaller and weighs 14 ounces compared to the A6600’s 18. The difference in size and weight of both cameras is likely because of one key difference: A bigger, longer-lasting battery. The A6600 promises 825 shots from a single charge, compared to just 420 for the A6100.

The function buttons on the rear of the camera are identically placed. However, the A6600 has made room for a c3 button, which allows you to access your customizations much easier. Both cameras also have a 3-inch tilting LCD screen.

The A6600 also has a better electronic viewfinder (EVF) resolution. It comes with 2.35-million-dot OLED EVF. The A6100 only offers 1.44 million dots. In other words, the A6600 has 63% higher resolution when looking through the viewfinder.

As for the build quality, the A6600 is weather-sealed and can be used in harsher conditions. The A6100 is completely lacking this feature and should be used with caution when shooting in inclement weather.

Which to buy?

There’s no denying the Sony A6600 has some flagship features that are lacking in the A6100. But in the same breath, they’re features that most shooters can live without. If you want a camera that has fantastic image quality, trailblazing autofocus, and more-than-capable video recording, it’s hard for us not to recommend going for the A6100 at just $600.

However, if you’re unable to compromise on IBIS, weather sealing, and better battery life — and don’t mind shelling out an extra $800 — then you’ll be more than happy if you purchase the A6600. Just know that doing so puts you in the company of some other great options worth considering.

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